SOUTH SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter County is looking to revitalize its southside. The community is getting more than $1 million to demolish dilapidated buildings. A project which residents say has been needed for years.
"One of the problems that we have in this area, right in this specific area, is we do not have a grocery store," Sumter resident Curtis Singleton shares.
Singleton has been president of the South Sumter Neighborhood Beautification Association for more than 20 years. He’s hoping a new demolition project will help revitalize the area.
"The houses that are being tore down are an eyesore for the neighborhood," Singleton says. "So at least by getting them teared down it gives them opportunity for new homes, new developments to come into that area."
Using the more than $1 million in funding, dozens of abandoned buildings will be demolished. That money is coming from U.S. Congressman James Clyburn’s office.
"When I heard that, my ears perked up," Sumter County Council Chairman James McCain remembers.
McCain heard about the funding and submitted a proposal to revitalize Sumter’s south side.
"It brings the property values of the surrounding houses down," McCain explains.
He says it’s inspired by a project he worked on in 2018 with the Turkey Creek Neighborhood Association.
"They really, really were passionate about their neighborhood," McCain says.
Now, McCain says the city and county are working with the Santee-Lynches Council of Government to identify roughly 200 buildings in the south side to demolish. The buildings will come down at no cost to property owners.
"They retain ownership of the property and the only thing that we ask is that they maintain the properties," McCain explains. "But we’re hoping that in some cases they will build houses on those properties to bring back the neighborhoods."
Right now, McCain says the Santee-Lynches Council of Governments is working on asbestos abatement and is identifying the specific buildings that will come down. Demolitions are expected to start in about two months.